Released: June 2014
Publisher: Bradwell Books
Size: 160 x 160mm
Author: Rachael Atkinson
Bradwell’s Eclectica Liverpool features a plethora of facts and information about the people and events that have helped to make the city so interesting. The title brings together dialect, humour, recipes, murder stories, local names, walks and maps, ghost stories, local customs, local sports, local history and famous locals in one 80 page softback publication.
The city of Liverpool was founded in 1207 as the direct result of King John’s expansionist policy towards the Irish.
He found himself in need of a suitable port from which to embark his navy for a seaborne expedition to Ireland, so he sent his surveyors north and west in search of a suitable location. While scouring the coast of Cheshire and Lancashire they came across a tidal inlet in the estuary of the River Mersey, known locally as the Laver Pool for its deep slow-moving weedchoked water (laver is a kind of seaweed). They sent word to the King that a suitable embarkation point had been found.
King John responded by creating a new Royal Borough named for the pool, and offering parcels of land (or burgages) in the new borough for sale to London merchants and nobles. Uptake was swift among interested parties from Lancashire and Cheshire as well as London, and the tiny marshland settlement of Liverpool grew rapidly to become a major port city.
Of course, the irony is that King John’s original intention, to occupy Ireland and quell the troublesome natives, was rather subverted by the fact that Liverpool became one of the major immigration points to the UK, with many thousands of Irish settlers arriving in search of work or as a staging post on the way to the US. Much of the city’s vibrancy comes from its eclectic mix of inhabitants, with Scots, Welsh and Irish settlers mixing with the Lancastrian locals and also with immigrants from much further afield. The city welcomed them all, and continues to do so.
The River Mersey remains the city’s major artery, with the Port of Liverpool providing berths for trade, passenger and leisure vessels and the river linking to the rail and canal networks for onward inland travel. Down the centuries the city has traded in coal, wool, Sheffield steel, leather, cotton, tobacco, sugar and people, although its part in the reprehensible slave trade was more limited than is often believed.
From its inception the city and its inhabitants have enjoyed a reputation for a certain bolshiness, a swagger and sense of adventure that are reflected in Liverpool’s history and its humour. Liverpudlians (or sometimes Liverpolitans) are known for their brashness and bluntness, their take-no-prisoners humour and their quick repartee, all underpinned by a passionate loyalty to their city, their family and friends. Scousers, the affectionate name most commonly given to residents of the city, comes from Scouse (or Lobscouse), the ubiquitous dish cooked and eaten by the poor and the itinerant maritime population. It consisted of a vegetable broth cooked up with whatever meat was available, often the poorest cuts (tripe, trotters, pigs’ ears) and eked out to last the family as long as possible. These days the dish is cooked with better cuts of meat and is regarded as a local delicacy; there is even a vegetarian version!
The city went through a period of being renowned for all manner of social ills – there were ghettos of poverty, crime and the lowest standards of living, despite the city’s enormous mercantile affluence in other areas. During the Victorian years it was known as the Black Spot on the Mersey, but at the same time it was also a powerhouse of industrial invention, witnessing the birth of the railways and the invention of many maritime and dockland innovations such as the complicated system of dry and wet docks. In recent years the city has undergone a renaissance and seen a huge amount of inward investment, with large swathes of previously unlovely industrial and dockland areas being redeveloped.
The middle of the twentieth century was a period of huge cultural and artistic expansion, with music and art exploding from Liverpool and conquering the world; this vibrancy has continued into the twenty first century, and in 2008 the city was named the European City of Culture. Of course, music is part of Liverpool’s artistic soul; the city is home to the UK’s oldest professional symphony orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Beatles led the Merseyside pop music revolution that conquered the world. Artists from Liverpool have included George Stubbs ( famous for his pictures of horses), Brian Shields or Braaq (who painted northern industrial landscapes) and Bill Tidy, the well-known cartoonist. There is also a proud tradition of writers and dramatists, from Beryl Bainbridge and Clive Barker to Alan Bleasdale and Carla Lane, who have contributed to making the Scouse dialect one of the best known and most often imitated in the UK.